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    Kroger to Introduce Sanitized Ready-to-Eat Fresh Produce

    HOUSTON - Houston-based food safety company Suntex Group Ltd. has inked a deal with The Kroger Co. to offer Suntex Clean fully sanitized, ready-to-eat fresh produce in all 125 Houston-area Kroger stores.

    HOUSTON - Houston-based food safety company Suntex Group Ltd. has inked a deal with The Kroger Co. to offer Suntex Clean fully sanitized, ready-to-eat fresh produce in all 125 Houston-area Kroger stores.

    The Suntex Safety Wash System uses an FDA-approved process that hand sorts freshly harvested premium produce, then washes, brushes and sanitizes the produce without leaving a chemical residue. Finally, it is sealed in special protective packaging, so that consumers can literally eat the produce right off the shelf without any washing or cleaning at home, according to the company.

    A key element of the Suntex Safety Wash System is a comprehensive oxygenation process using a solution of purified water and electrically charged negative ions to eliminate bacteria and germs, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, E. coli and Cryptosporidium.

    Currently the Suntex Clean produce line includes potatoes, Fuji apples, Gala apples, tomatoes, oranges, peaches and nectarines. Other fresh produce items will be available soon, including cantaloupe, grapefruit and red potatoes.

    "The goal of Suntex Clean was to find a way to clean and protect our product all the way to the consumer's home without altering the flavor, nutritional value or integrity of the produce," said Blake La Grange, founder of the Suntex Group Ltd.

    Kroger decided to offer the Suntex Clean produce after a three-month pilot program and extensive market research in select Houston-area Kroger stores. "The customer response was enthusiastic," said La Grange.

    This follows a decision in January 2002 by the Food Safety Division of the United States military to offer Suntex Clean produce in its San Antonio commissaries as a pilot program. "The pilot program is leading Suntex Clean produce into 10 additional commissaries serviced out of Dallas this year with the potential of nationwide distribution thereafter," says La Grange.

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